Blackwing is a submarine-launched unmanned air vehicle (UAV) developed by AeroVironment for the U.S. Navy. The Navy refers to the Blackwing development program under the acronym “AWESUM” (Advanced Weapons Enhanced by Submarine UAS against Mobile targets). Up to 150 of the UAVs will be acquired.
AeroVironment UAV Communicates with Underwater Drone Swarm
8 September 2016 - AeroVironment, Inc has announced the United States Navy has successfully demonstrated the use of its submarine-launched Blackwing UAV to link with a swarm of unmanned undersea vehicles and communicate with the submarine combat control system during the Annual Naval Technology Exercise (ANTX) on August 16.
Along with providing a new and unique intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability to submarine commanders, the Blackwing UAV can also provide high-speed data and communication relay for Command and Control (C2) between geographically separated vessels such as manned submarines, unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) and surface ships. Deployed UUVs collect large quantities of data while conducting diverse missions ranging from mine-hunting to wide-area oceanographic sensing. During the ANTX exercise, an AeroVironment developed, government-owned, secure digital datalink called DDLTM, integrated into all Blackwing UAVs, relayed real-time information from the surrogate manned submarine via the Blackwing UAV to and from multiple UUVs.
Blackwing builds on AeroVironment’s extensive development and operational experience with its Switchblade Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile System (LMAMS) and its common DDL to provide the Navy with a deployable submarine launched unmanned aircraft vehicle optimized for distributed Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) environments.
“Our Naval Undersea Warfare Center partners seek solutions for quickly and seamlessly linking the air and undersea domains to enhance warfighter capability.We successfully demonstrated the innovative utility of AeroVironment’s new Blackwing unmanned air vehicle,” said Kirk Flittie, AeroVironment vice president and general manager of its Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment.“Blackwing delivers significant value to the undersea community, and we look forward to working closely with our partners to expand this powerful new capability to enable underwater vehicles and cross-domain interoperability.In addition to our Navy partners, we also thank our industry partner Sparton for their continued support on Blackwing efforts.”
U.S. Navy to Deploy AeroVironment Blackwing Reconnaissance Systems on Attack and Guided Missile Submarines
16 May 2016 - At the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition AeroVironment, Inc. today announced the United States Navy plans to deploy its “Blackwing™,” a small, tube-launched unmanned aircraft system that deploys from under the surface of the sea, on manned submarines and unmanned underwater vehicles.
Blackwing builds on AeroVironment’s extensive operational experience with small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and its Switchblade™ Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile System (LMAMS) to provide the Navy with a low cost, submarine launched unmanned aircraft system optimized for Anti-Access/Aerial Denial (A2/AD) environments. AeroVironment developed the Blackwing system as part of a 2013 Navy and United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) sponsored JCTD called Advanced Weapons Enhanced by Submarine UAS against Mobile targets (AWESUM). This JCTD was completed in September 2015 with a strong recommendation to transition the capability into the fleet. Blackwing employs an advanced, miniature electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) payload, Selective Availability Anti-spoofing Module (SASSM) GPS and AeroVironment’s secure Digital Data Link (DDL), all packaged into a vehicle that launches from manned and unmanned submarines.
“AeroVironment’s new Blackwing unmanned aircraft system is a valuable new capability that resulted from our team’s close collaboration with, and responsiveness to, the U.S. Navy’s undersea warfare community and the Special Operations community,” said Kirk Flittie, AeroVironment vice president and general manager of its Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment. “Delivering innovative solutions that enhance our customers’ capabilities benefits the US Navy and USSOCOM, and creates new business opportunities for us. In addition to operating from undersea vehicles, Blackwing can also be integrated with and deployed from a wide variety of surface vessels and mobile ground vehicles to provide rapid response reconnaissance capabilities that help our customers operate more safely and effectively.”